“Our goal is to have pullets in the barn in December and egg production in place in the New Year,” says Tim Lambert, CEO of Egg Farmers of Canada and Vice-Chair of the International Egg Commission.
The first phase of construction is underway at the Project Canaan farm in rural Swaziland. The poultry barns’ location is being cleared of trees, brush and rocks and in the coming weeks the site will be leveled and the foundations put in place.
“There will be two barns to start. Each barn will house 2,500 hens,” he says. “Our intention is to work with local farmers to grow the operation and expand it over time to include up to 30,000 hens.”
He points to a photo and traces an outline of two parallel rectangular shapes and a square. “This is where the barns will be. The smaller area will be an office and staff accommodations.”
Upon closer examination of the aerial photo, I notice a person standing between what will soon be two poultry barns and realize the scale of the construction.
The photo was taken by Ian Maxwell, co-founder of Heart for Africa, who is based in Swaziland. Maxwell and a team of local farmers are responsible for the day-to-day operations and activities of Heart for Africa’s 2,500 acre farm.
The location was chosen because of its proximity to the dairy barn, allowing for easier access to water and electricity. “The barns will sit at the top of a hill that overlooks the entire Project Canaan farm,” adds Tim.
With the help of an architect the barn design is currently being finalized and the project team is working to secure the production equipment for the operation.
Egg Farmers of Canada and the International Egg Foundation have donated both technical skills and expertise towards the project and are driving fundraising efforts. The pair of organizations have signed on to work with and support Heart for Africa for a minimum of seven years.
“When the barns are in place, the project team will provide ongoing support and training over seven years. This is when we expect the operation to reach self-sufficiency,” Tim says.
Big Dutchman recently added its support to the initiative, donating the housing system for one of the barns. “It’s incredible to see how many people are behind this project,” he says. “But there is still plenty to do.”
With the first phase of construction underway, the focus has shifted towards fundraising.
The fundraising goal is set at just over 1 million dollars. This amount will pay for materials to build the barn and purchase equipment, such as waterlines and a machine to hard cook eggs. Funds raised will also cover ongoing operating costs, including pullets and feed for the hens.
Donations can be made by visiting heartforafrica.ca (or heartforafrica.org in the U.S.) and by selecting “poultry house.” Your support will help bring a sustainable source of high-quality protein and better nutrition for an entire community.